I have a question, actually a slew of questions. It seems the majority of students graduating from culinary school are clueless and most, even in 3rd semester, can't even recognize some vegetables, even if it stood up and jumped in the pot itself. Most have never even tasted a beautiful bulb of fennel, either.
In my defense, I am a culinary student in my third semester, however, I am not your average student; I have been cooking for over 40 years. Not "mom & pop" meals, but making my own gnocci, raviolis, carbonara, collards, steaming, poaching salmon, shark, roasts, barbecue rubs, wet rubs, etc. I learned my knife skills (believe it or not) from Jacques Pepin and I've been practicing them everyday since 1979. I've stood front of my spice cabinet and spent a good part of a Saturday, just tasting spices, trying to figure out what would go well with what. I was curious about the effects of bay leaves, so I boiled two pots of potatoes, and put a leaf in one and compared the differences. I've taken espresso powder along with other spices, both hot and sweet to make a dry rub for a slow roasted, pulled pork. I played with my food; literally, and I now I want to do it professionally.
Culinary school has allowed me to perfect things I have always wanted to create like sauces made with wine reductions, consomme, savory breadpuddings, corn ice cream, and of course, safety. I've always been safe handling cutlery, but I never used a hand guard on my mandoline at home, but I do now. When I cut myself in school trying to get the last of a potato while in 2nd semester, I now realize the seriousness of "let that piece of potato go; it's not worth your hand." No matter how experienced you are, always practice safety.
I listen to a lot of students in my class (3rd semester) brag about entering contests, working for catering companies, and starting a culinary club on campus. They want to "teach people how to cut & cook". Good Christmas! If you heard them ask me if they could help me finish cutting the mirepoix for stock, you would have jumped through this computer screen, into my class kitchen because I had tell them to split the leeks and rinse the inside dirt out of the layers and they did not have a clue. They were going to dump them into my stockpot as is.
How in the world are these people going to start a club when they don't know how to wash a darn leek!!? Another student thought she was knowledgeable of all things food, but didn't know what celery root was or tasted like. Geez!
No wonder newly graduated students get a bad rap. Last one, (almost promise) we were making french fries for the Bistro and one guy actually put a pot of water on and started blanching the fries in boiling water. Get out! He never read his On Cooking book or the instructions that you blanch IN OIL first. Save Jebbus!
I hope when I graduate, I make the chef who hires me proud. Even though I am 57 years old and take D...ned good care of myself, I will never be too old to stop learning...except from one of classmates.
Edited by Etherial - 9/30/13 at 4:53pm